Volunteer Labor Helps High Desert Parks and SchoolsFree labor and equipment services donated by a small army of volunteer workers across the High Desert topped the $65,000 mark, San Bernardino County officials said. Some 750 volunteers from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints fanned out across the Victor Valley on Saturday, April 26 as part of the statewide High Desert Helping Hands Day of Community Service. Using the county’s own wage rates, the value of the volunteer labor is worth $65,000, said 1st District Supervisor Robert Lovingood. The donated use of a power trencher, chain saws, trucks, trailers and other equipment pushed the total value even higher. “This marks the sixth year for the Helping Hands event. I thank everyone involved in this impressive display of faith and community service,” said Lovingood, who visited with volunteers at the county’sMojave Narrows Regional Park in Victorville. About 230 volunteers at Mojave Narrows cleared brush, cut and removed dead trees, built fencing and laid power and water lines for six new camp sites, which will increase the revenue here at the park, said Ken Anderson, project coordinator. “We’re out here because we love the community, we’re a part of it; we all live here. And we want to make it a better place,” Anderson said. In Apple Valley, 170 volunteers worked at seven schools: Apple Valley High School, Yucca Loma Elementary, Mariana Academy, Rio Vista Elementary, Sycamore Rocks Elementary, Vanguard Prep and Phoenix Academy. “I can’t believe how well these people work,” said Gabe Amarro of Apple Valley. In Hesperia, 280 volunteers cleaned trails at Silverwood Lake, cleared weeds and fixed soil erosion at Krystal Elementary School. Eric Schmidt of the Hesperia City Council participated in the event. The opportunity to serve our community of Hesperia and help maintain our recreational and public resources was certainly achieved on this day of community service,” said Tom Knox, of the Hesperia Stake Public Affairs Council. In Wrightwood, 31 volunteers raked and lined the trail with rocks from the fire station to Lone Pine Canyon Road. And in Barstow, 42 volunteers partnered with those from the First United Methodist Church, “The Hope Hut” Desert Manna, New Hope Village and others to clean, organize and make minor repairs at the “Hope Hut” thrift store.
Feds OK Even Playing Field for Spring Valley LakeFollowing lengthy efforts by San Bernardino County, federal officials have lifted a rule requiring future homes in Spring Valley Lake to be built one foot higher than existing homes, 1st District Supervisor Robert Lovingood announced. The breakthrough will save on construction costs and avoid an unsightly and inconsistent mishmash of homes at different levels. “I want to thank County Public Works Director Gerry Newcomb and his team for their work on this issue in Spring Valley Lake,” Lovingood said. “This is an example of government working together to make things right.” Victorville Architect Robert Martinez said the additional height requirement would have meant adding four to six steps at every entry to a home he is designing in Spring Valley Lake. The requirement, he said, stalled the construction project by about a year and a half. “I appreciate everything Robert Lovingood has done for us,” Martinez said. “He’s been a great advocate for the cause.” In August of 2008, FEMA remapped most of the Spring Valley Lake Area in a floodplain because the community was shown to be protected by a levee that had not been certified to meet FEMA’s standards. This triggered a requirement in the County Development Code requiring building pads to be elevated one foot from the highest adjacent ground. This was problematic in the Spring Valley Lake area which had over 200 unimproved residential lots graded with elevations based on existing street elevations and could potentially cause individuals wanting to build on these lots thousands of dollars. The issue was brought to the Flood Control District’s attention by Supervisor Lovingood. The Flood Control District hired an engineering firm, HDR Inc., to analyze the levee in order to demonstrate that the Spring Valley Lake area should not be in a floodplain. FEMA has approved the removal of the floodplain designation and has issued new maps that reflect the change. This will be a relief to everyone planning to build in the Spring Valley Lake area. The County Land Uses Services began using the new maps on Monday, April 21, 2014. For further information please contact Land Use Services Building and Safety Division at (909) 387- 8311.
Are Fed Government’s Staggering Job Training Efforts Working?The federal government’s job-training efforts are staggering: Forty-seven separate programs administered by nine different agencies costing $18 billion. It might sound like a great idea. But most of these programs are not proven to be effective. And that’s not just an opinion. Here are some facts: A report by the Government Accountability Office found that “only 5 of the 47 programs have had impact studies that assess whether the program is responsible for improved employment outcomes.” And among the few that did measure impacts, the results tended to be small, inconclusive or short-term. One federally funded job training program here in San Bernardino County graduated 400 of the 500 students who entered the program. But only 12 percent found jobs in the field they were trained for. By most any standard, that’s a remarkably poor return on a $2 million federal investment. In some cases training programs cost more than $76,000 per successful job placement, according to the Department of Labor’s inspector general. Sadly, the federal government is spending billions on administration of job training programs rather than on training the people who need jobs. In short, job training isn’t the goal. Job placement is. Part of the problem is that well-intended training programs are inflexible and contain too many strings when implemented at the local level. We need to shift from predominantly federal control of job training to predominantly local control and instill accountability. Fixing these programs isn’t a Republican issue or a Democratic issue. It’s really a common sense issue. In recent years, there has been a push for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) programs in schools. I support these programs, but it will be years before we see results in the workforce. Right now we have thousands of people who are unemployed and thousands more who are under-employed. These are hardworking folks who are busy raising their families and go to work every day, often at low-wage jobs. They have the dedication to hold down a job. But they can only dream of getting the training they need to get ahead to a higher-paying job. Unfortunately, the current job-training programs do little or nothing for these workers who can be our greatest asset. Leading companies are already using best practices in paid, on-the-job training programs. So if we use the same practices to create paid job training programs, we too will succeed. The one-size-fits-all philosophy of federal job training doesn’t work. Local control of job training is essential. We need more up front student assessments and proven learning models such as block training. Effectiveness needs to be measured not just in the number of people trained but in how many are placed in the jobs they are trained for. One proposal now in Congress would consolidate 35 federal job training programs into a single fund that states and counties would administer. Another idea is to provide tax credits for on-the-job training. On-the-job training offers the benefit of knowing an actual job exists and that a real-life employer has screened the candidate. But employers are wary of existing programs because if untrained workers don’t work out and must be terminated, the employer’s unemployment insurance premium will take a hit. So it becomes a big gamble to hire. More than 1.4 million Californians are out of work and 74,400 of them live right here in San Bernardino county. These are people who want to work, who need to work. So the time is right to enhance our job training programs and put our residents back to work.